sponsor and child

A Visit to Remember

Letter writing is a great way for a sponsor to learn about their child’s life; with letters, drawings, and pictures, sponsor and child are able to grow their friendship through correspondence. But some sponsors dream of meeting their children in real life – and actually make the (oftentimes long!) trip to visit them in person!

Last October, sponsor Heidi from the United States set out on the long journey to Saptari, Nepal, to visit her sponsored child, Jay. During her two day visit, Heidi was able to see the life-changing programs her generous sponsorship helps support with her own eyes. “This visit helped me realize how far my sponsorship money can go and all the great things that can be done because of my sponsorship,” Heidi said.

sponsor with family

 

During her time in Nepal, Heidi was able to spend time getting to know Jay and his family. “This visit meant a lot to me and my son,” Jay’s mom said. “I feel like I am a lucky mother because my son’s sponsor came to meet him from faraway. Not everyone gets such an opportunity to see and talk with their sponsor.” She also added, “I am the first mother in this school and in the community who got an opportunity to meet my child’s sponsor in person, so I feel very proud to be the luckiest one!”

Heidi also had the opportunity to visit Jay’s school, meet with his teachers and his principal. “I really enjoyed being able to speak with the teachers and school management committee members to hear how the support of Save the Children has made a positive impact on the attendance of children,” Heidi said.

“It was wonderful meeting with our donor in person and welcoming her in our school,” the principal of Jay’s school said. “We were very glad to thank her personally for her generous support. The changed school environment, better classrooms, improved reading and teaching materials…and awareness among parents and guardians about education are possible because of her support.”

sponsor with club members

 

For Heidi, seeing her sponsored child in person and understanding the context of his challenging life was an experience she will cherish forever. “I will never forget getting to meet my sponsored child in person. Being able to see the community that he is living in and meet his family was so special and it taught me a lot about what it is like to grow up in this rural environment and see some of the challenges that the community faces. I am very proud to be a sponsor for such a wonderful organization.”

The visit was memorable for Jay, too! “I am very happy to meet my sponsor in person and show her my classroom,” Jay said.

Learn how you can change your child’s life with a visit here.

Floods Do Not Wash Away Hopes

Author Portrait_Rubina Raut, Sponsorship Program Officer
Rubina-Raut

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

January 8, 2018

The August rains this year in Nepal proved to be one of the harshest the country has seen in years.

The day started just like any other day in Saptari, one of the sponsorship supported areas in the eastern region of Nepal – bright and sunny. But then, the sky was engulfed with dark clouds and wind, signs of approaching rain. The weather forecast warned of heavy rainfall. However, many, including me, went home in the evening with little thought about the impending damage. The rain got worse as the day went on.

A little before dawn, people chattering woke me up. Everyone, young and old, was wide awake. The water leaking through the closed doors was pooling inside my house, and my neighbor’s houses. As we waited for the relief of daybreak, we piled up furniture to achieve some higher ground for our valuables.

As the light broke through, my hometown was looking more like a deep pond. The magnitude of destruction was immeasurable.

Children in Saptari taking refuge in temporary shelters while their homes are submerged in flood waters.
Children in Saptari taking refuge in temporary shelters while their homes are submerged in flood waters.

The flood washed away homes, belongings and crops as well, damaging families’ livelihoods that were meant to last them throughout the year, in a series of continuous downpours. Homes, schools, hospitals and health posts were partially submerged in water. Everyone was searching for high elevation to take refuge. Families brought along with themselves anything they could save – most clutched their precious goats and cattle, their only source of livelihood left. It was really disheartening to see people, especially young carefree children, not having access to clean drinking water during this crisis.

Despite the damage, some of the children still seemed sunny and upbeat, as they swam and played, trying to fish in the new pools of flooded water.

Save the Children helped distribute tarps to around 1,000 affected households, to ensure families have a shelter above them, and shared over 800 hygiene kits – containing items like soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, water purifiers, underwear and towels. Our goal was to ensure children could remain safe from preventable diseases, the prevalence of which rises dramatically during such natural disasters, because water can become contaminated easily.

Floods consuming a small village.
Floods consuming a small village.

Children, among others, are more at risk in disasters like these. Physical as well as psychological shelter is an urgent need for children during emergencies. In addition to health kits and support in finding shelters, almost 500 children were provided student kits including learning materials like books and notebooks, replacing lost school supplies as the flood in Saptari gradually dries up.

Without sponsorship, none of this relief would have been possible. From my neighbors and I, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Do you have a family plan for when emergencies strike? Being prepared and organized goes a long way in times of crises. How does your family weather big storms?

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Shashank Shrestha/Save the Children

Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life!

Originally published on HealtyNewbornNetwork.org

Midwife Rita helped deliver Rupa and Rajkumar’s first-born daughter this year at the newly constructed Taruka health facility in rural Nepal, a facility Save the Children helped rebuild after the devastating 2015 earthquake. The proximity of a health post and availability of a skilled auxiliary nurse midwife helped save the newborn’s life. Even though Rupa had visited the health post often to ensure her pregnancy was proceeding, she was still anxious as her delivery approached. She had heard awful stories of women losing their lives during childbirth. But by delivering in a health facility with a skilled, well-equipped, and respectful midwife, both mom and baby survived childbirth and the days following without complication.

Rita’s story is just one of many we should celebrate today on International Day of the Midwife. However, there are other stories that won’t end as happily. Today, nearly 830 women will needlessly die giving birth, more than 7,200 babies will not survive childbirth or the last three months of pregnancy, and another 7,300 babies will die within the first hours and days after birth. That adds up to 303,000 women and 5.3 million infants every year whose lives are lost. Nearly all of these deaths could be prevented if high-quality services were available to every woman and baby everywhere.

And while 99 percent of these deaths happen in developing countries, rich countries like the United States are not exempt. Thousands of families suffer the tragedy of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity every year in developed countries.

This week, US celebrity Jimmy Kimmel shared his emotional story about his son’s heart defect on national television and expressed praise and appreciation for the midwives who supported his family throughout the process. Jimmy said, “If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.” This statement is no less true in low-income countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. And for marginalized populations, like those who live in hard-to-reach areas, and are victims of conflict and humanitarian crises.

No mother – anywhere – should have to risk her life or that of her baby by going through childbirth without the expert care of a midwife or other skilled birth attendant. Yet, globally, one in four women gives birth without such care. And 2.2 million give birth all alone. The World Health Organization estimated that in 2015 there would be a shortage of more than 3.5 million health workers – including a million midwives. This means that mothers and children have no one to diagnose and treat their illnesses, provide immunizations, or help them stay healthy.

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Midwife is Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life! Partnerships are central to midwifery. Midwives partner with women, families, and communities to provide lifesaving healthcare to mothers and babies, from before pregnancy to the first months after birth. They collaborate with doctors and facility staff to devise treatment plans and deliver high-quality, respectful care. They serve in government ministries and other decisionmaking bodies to make policy and funding decisions that ensure midwives have the resources they need. And they teach, mentor, and supervise to ensure midwives both practice what they know and learn new skills.

Ending preventable maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths requires more qualified midwives, more empowered midwives, better resourced midwives, and more respect for midwives. How can we strengthen these partnerships? For one, we can listen to midwives’ voices. The upcoming Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives is another opportunity to engage with midwives to strengthen support of their work. I am making it a priority this week and in the coming weeks to listen to the voices of midwives.

If you are a midwife or want to recognize a midwife for her partnership for life, please write to the Healthy Newborn Network with your story and we will be sure to share it.

Guarding Our Children’s Future

Author Portrait_Tribhuvan Karmacharya, Sponsorship Program OfficerTribhuvan Karmacharya

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

March 17, 2017

Being born and raised in the hilly district of Pyuthan in Nepal, I consider myself one of the lucky few who was able to have a better chance at an education. I grew up in one of the most developed parts of Pyuthan, though calling it developed would be an overstatement. Many parts of this area, particularly in the high, upper hill regions, still lack electricity, and are so remote that hours on foot are required for daily tasks like collecting water for household use. I had the privilege of going to school and even continuing with my education, unlike the many children I meet with on a regular basis during field visits to this area.

I was quite unaware of Save the Children’s Sponsorship program until I joined the team myself in 2011. My primary role included collecting child replies from children for their sponsors, and collecting updates from the children about their daily life and about how they are benefiting from our programs. Most recently, we have begun to give extra attention to children who are not enrolled in school because they need our support more than ever, to truly turn around their lives.

A typical road in Pyuthan.
A typical road in Pyuthan.

My colleagues and I set out to cover different areas to meet with these out-of-school children. Walking is never an option in hilly communities like ours – it is the only choice if you need to go somewhere. Sometimes children walk for hours just to reach their school. After leaving the motor road, I walked along the narrow dirt trails to meet with several out-of-school children. Of those I met with that day, a young 11-year-old boy named Aashik still frequently comes to my mind.

Aashik’s mother had been terminally ill for quite some time. He had stopped going to school in order to care for his ailing mother, and to prepare food and care for his little sister since his mother no longer could. His father and 17-year-old brother had moved to India in search of work, a common story for families here. I will never forget the moment his lips shut tight and his eyes welled up when I asked him if he liked going to school. I didn’t need his confirmation. I already had the answer.

As a father to two young children myself, I could not bear to see Aashik cry. At his age, I was happy and content with my life. I expect the same for my sons and I expected the same for Aashik. I made arrangements for him, as well as the other children I met with that day, to get enrolled in school again.

Tribhuvan following up with Aashik (middle) and his friend about how returning to classes is going.
Tribhuvan following up with Aashik (middle) and his friend about how returning to classes is going.

A couple of months later, I followed up with the 15 out-of-school children whose families I had counselled about getting their children back in school. Just 10 of them were still continuing with their schooling by then, the other 5, the older ones, needed to return to home-life caring for other family members and household tasks. Despite this sad news, my heavy heart settled a little when I heard that Aashik was one of the 10 still attending, and that his younger sister had joined school now too.

Thanks to the support of our caring sponsors, Sponsorship team members like Tribhuvan are able to make the long journey to reach children in some of the most remote regions of the globe. By working with community members and parents, we are able to bring out-of-school children like Aashik back to learning – by providing them with school supplies and helping parents understand the importance of a good education for their children. Without your support, none of this would be possible for Aashik and children like him. Thank you!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

 

Nepal Earthquake: Aid Worker’s Firsthand Account from the Field

A firsthand account of the massive earthquake and Save the Children’s plans for how to help the children of Nepal.

Our voice in the field is Brad Kerner, part of Save the Children’s team on the ground responding to the deadly earthquake in Nepal. He was in Nepal when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck and is in Kathmandu assisting with our emergency relief efforts. Here he shares his firsthand account of the massive earthquake and Save the Children’s plans for how to help the children of Nepal. 

Brad Kerner_162443Nestled in the majestic Himalayan mountains, Nepal is near the top of the world and home to Mount Everest. I’ve always been in awe of the snowy peaks and fond of the gentle Nepalese children I’ve had the honor to work with over the years.

I was hiking with friends on the rim of a pristine lake. We were enjoying our day off, celebrating a colleague’s birthday. Then suddenly in the distance, we saw buildings start to shake. Then the rumbling sounds started. People ran out of buildings, but the shaking ground knocked them off their feet like game pieces on a chessboard that had been turned over. We felt the ground shake as the shockwave came crashing toward us. We huddled together, instinctively, for stability. I’ve never been more frightened in my life – I was paralyzed with fear and clung to my friends for dear life. We watched as buildings collapsed and houses came crashing down. The sounds of destruction and dogs barking filled our ears. The quake lasted little more than a minute – but it felt like an eternity.

15-NP-5_162433At first, we didn’t know the extent of the damage. Communications were down. My wife saw the news back in the states and was frantically trying to contact me. Thankfully, she reached me within a few hours.

We slept in a tent for the night and then headed back to Save the Children headquarters in Kathmandu, where our staff was readying our response to the disaster. What’s typically a 4-hour trip took more than 7 hours, but we were grateful that the roads were relatively intact. So many homes have been damaged and destroyed. The aftershocks make it unsafe to be inside. It is still cold here in the mountains, and it rained last night, but people are fearful to return to their homes and are sleeping outside in makeshift tents.   

Our teams have been working around the clock in response to the earthquake. The first phase includes the distribution of emergency supplies like tarps and other materials children and families need to survive. The next phase will also include protecting children who have been orphaned or separated from their families during this tragic disaster. As a public health professional, I have great concerns about the potential for the spread of disease in the coming days. With little or no access to clean water and proper sanitation, conditions are ripe for diarrheal diseases, such as cholera. These diseases are already the second leading cause of death for young children around the world. 

We are doing everything we can to keep children safe from harm and help families recover in the aftermath of the earthquake. We have more than 500 highly trained staff members in Nepal, many of whom have received intensive emergency response training. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our donors that will enable us to give children what they need to survive this horrific disaster and recover in the days, weeks and months to come. On behalf of Nepal’s children and families, thank you.

==============================================================

More about Brad: Brad lives in Connecticut with his wife and children. They have two sons, ages 7 and 5, and a 10-month-old daughter. A veteran aid worker, Brad has been with Save the Children for a decade, and this is his 10th trip to Nepal. He had been working in Pokhara, Nepal on our health education programs – about 125 miles away from the capital city of Kathmandu – not far from the epicenter of the earthquake. Brad is highly regarded by his colleagues for his expertise and adored for his good humor. He is also one tough man – literally! When he’s not working or spending time with his family, he is an avid endurance athlete. He has competed in the Tough Mudder – a hardcore, 10-mile team obstacle challenge. 

How You Can Help 

Please give generously to the Nepal Earthquake Children’s Relief Fund to support Save the Children's responses to ongoing and urgent needs as a result of the earthquake. 

Sponsorship in a New District

Junima shakya

Junima Shakya

Nepal Sponsorship Manager

June 19, 2014

 

 

After a two-and-a-half-hour drive from our regional office in Biratnagar, we reached our destination Saptari. Saptari is an eastern Terai district of Nepal where Save the Children will soon launch its Sponsorship program. The first stop in Saptari was our new partner organization's office. We all then headed to Launiya, a village in Saptari.

Grade two children in primary school on Launiya village

Grade two children in Launiya village's primary school

We reached the only school, and a primary school at that, in Launiya village. Due to lack of classrooms, pre-k and grade one students share the same classroom. During our conversation with one of the pre-k facilitators, Usha Kumari Mandal, we found out that she received a formal training on early education many years back, but has not been updated about the standard methods of teaching. She expressed her concern over the sharing of the classrooms and added, "It is difficult to care for children…plus, it becomes chaotic when two teachers try to teach their lessons simultaneously to these two groups in the same classroom."

Grade four children in school of Ko Madhepura village

Grade four children in school at of Ko Madhepura village

Anticipating similar challenges, we moved to our second destination, Ko Madhyapura. We witnessed the same problems. Lack of room required children from different grades to share a single classroom. The classrooms were in deplorable conditions. Students in one of the classrooms actually shared space with a pile of bricks. We noticed that the school had a majority of female students, only 26 out of 155 registered students were malw. When inquired, one of the teachers informed us that while parents sent their daughters to government schools, they sent their sons to private schools for better education opportunities.

We could not help but notice that almost half of the registered students remained absent in the school. We saw some children accompanying their parents in the household chores or some leisurely spending their time playing in the pond near the school. Very few parents in this community realize the importance of education in their children's lives and when parents go out to work, they keep their eldest child in charge of the house and their siblings. The head teacher of the school suggests that these problems can partly be overcome by providing training on active teaching and learning methods for teachers. He further adds, "The regularity of students can be improved by maintaining a sound teaching and learning environment… we should also focus on creating and managing proper classrooms for students."

Children in school of Launiya

Children in school at Launiya village

The challenges in this community are many. Ultra-poverty, lack of awareness, different priorities concerning one's immediate survival, and decades of oppression by the so-called elite groups are some of the major causes preventing this community from living a prosperous life. The younger generation needs a little lift to fulfill their dreams and hopes of better lives.

We are glad that our Sponsorship program will soon be there for that!

 

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Welcoming a Formerly Sponsored Child to Save the Children

Junima shakya

Junima Shakya

Save the Children Staff

Kathmandu, Nepal

April 2014

 

Today, we were introduced to a group of new staff. One name was familiar. He was Guru Saran in his mid-20s. I asked if he is the formerly sponsored child Guru Saran and he answered with a smile, “yes”. 

Guru sharan Sada's photoGuru was born in the Musahar community in the eastern part of Nepal. His family’s only income came from his parents work as daily wage earners in a brick factory.

Our sponsorship program started in Guru’s community in 1990. He was 12 when he enrolled and recalls how excited he was the day his first photo was taken for the program, when he was in grade eight.

Guru had the opportunity to join Save the Children’s child-to-child program in 1996. For three months, he learned about various aspects of children’s rights and child participation. He was also a part of a Save the Children supported child club which he believes helped him develop leadership qualities and stand out as an active youth in his community. Through that club, he participated in various trainings, competitions and cultural activities and gained other important life skills.

Guru was the first person from his village to complete the SLC exam, Nepal’s grade ten completion exam. He continued to receive scholarship support up through grade twelve from Save the Children’s program. He says, “It played an important role in me being able to pursue higher education.” He is currently in his final year of completing a Master’s degree in Education. Guru Saran in STC Regional office 1

“Save the Children changed the course of my life,” he continued. “Had I not been involved with the sponsorship program and child club, I would probably have started working in a brick factory at an early age. I would have given up on my studies. I think about the time when Save the Children first provided me with school supplies when I was in grade five, even before I enrolled in sponsorship, and I think about how they helped me complete my high school education. I feel I have a close relationship with Save the Children,” he says.

Last year, Guru had a short-term job of five months as a junior program officer with the education program. He joined Save the Children in March of 2013 as the Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant, based in our Eastern Regional Office in Biratnagar.

“I want to help children like me. From my own experience, I can say that education is the gateway to social transformation. I want to help those who do not have access to opportunities.” He pauses. “Save the Children provided me with a chance to fulfill my dreams.”

That day I felt extremely happy to welcome Guru as part of our Save the Children team and felt proud that the sponsorship program helped him realize his potential.

You can help change someone’s life, become a sponsor today!

Moms are the Heroes

We’ve all heard it before in one form or another: “Don’t get between a mother and her baby,” “There is nothing better (or worse depending on your position!) than a fired up mom” or “Mothers are their kids’ best advocates. However you phrase it, I see evidence of this everywhere I go for my work as Save the Children’s CEO and, I guess, Mom-in-Chief. It plays out whether I’m in Washington, DC or Lexington, Kentucky or the Bekka Valley of Lebanon. And during my trip last week to rural Nepal, I saw it again in full force.

Read Article

Rita Weaves her Magic in Grade One Classroom




Sanjana

Sanjana Shrestha, Communication
Coordinator

Nepal Country Office

July 19, 2013


Nothing
deters Rita, not even a room full of curious and mischievous first graders. On
a field trip to Kapilvastu, one of our sponsorship impact areas, I accidentally
stumbled into Rita’s classroom and listened to her teach numbers to eager and
excited first graders.

She
has drawn a chart with numbers and things that represent the number. For
example, the number 3 is represented by drawing of three cups alongside a “3.”
She engages in a discussion with children about how and why they use cups.
Children promptly answer that they drink tea from cups. She also encourages
children to find synonyms for cups in other languages. When it’s time to learn
about the number 4, she asks the children to count the number of windows in the
classroom. In Rita’s class, children not only learn about numbers, but also
about new words, language and discovering things on their own.

Nepal_blog_Rita in her classroom

Rita in her classroom

A
look around her classroom and I am captivated. Rita has covered the walls with pictures
and learning materials. Story books hang on a line that runs across the
classroom, children’s drawings are suspended from the ceiling and there are locally
made toys, games – and learning materials Rita made herself.

“I
do not find teaching these children difficult. In fact, it’s more difficult to
stay home doing nothing,” says Rita, who lives an hour away and comes on a
bicycle every day. “My students help me in class. When I announce the lesson for
the day, they volunteer to bring learning materials needed for that class. One
of them always keeps the attendance register. The best part is when children
volunteer to bring water when anyone is sick in the class or needs to take
medicine.”

Rita
says that she started enjoying her job more when she participated in training
to make learning materials, “a door to new ways in which she could teach
children.” She sometimes gathers her first graders and makes teaching materials
with them, all the time asking them questions about what things they can make
from cutting papers in different shapes and sizes. She says learning materials
make children creative and more imaginative. When they see the lessons in
textbooks turned into something visual, they can understand very easily.

Rita
whose mother tongue is Tharu, uses Awadhi, the language they use at home, to
speak to her students. She is a bridge for her young wards in switching between
languages.

Nepal_blog_Rita with her students

Rita with her students

Rita
takes great pride in her first graders and the discipline they show in class,
even when they are playing games. She says, “I like the beautiful handwriting
the children are learning, and I like their questions. I hope they help their
grade two teacher like they did me.”

One
of her students Anita, 8, says, “I like my teacher a lot because she loves us
and tells stories to us.” Anita, who has been in grade one for the past three
years, is making huge progress this year with Rita as her teacher.

Rita
says, “Anita didn’t go to an ECD [early childhood development] center, but
started in grade 1. In the evening after school, she goes home to wash dishes
and cook. She can write and read Nepali and sometimes leads the class, and she counts
from one to hundred. She even asks me for difficult homework.” Rita is
confident Anita will pass grade one with flying colors this year.

 

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Rebati’s Story

Junima headshotJunima Shakya, Sponsorship Manager

Pyuthan, Nepal

December 12, 2012


During my last visit to Chandreshwori Primary School in Pyuthan, a Sponsorship Impact Area in western Nepal, I met Rebati. With her welcoming smile, Rebati works at the school and is very popular among the teachers and students.

I was interested in talking with Rebati after learning that her son, Bikash, is enrolled in the sponsorship program and attend she schools Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Center. Rebati told me that Bikash has already received two letters from his sponsor and happily shares the sponsor’s name, though the foreign pronunciation was difficult for her, and what they had written. Blog_05.0.12_Rebati with school children

33 year-old Rebati left her studies while she was still in the 10th Grade.  She lives with her mother-in-law and two sons, while her husband of seven years works in India as a watchman. 

Her duties at the school include cleaning, serving tea and water to the teachers and students and ringing the bell for the lessons. She also often goes to the local Save the Children field office to collect sponsors letters, medicines and materials.

She has been trained by Save the Children in health and sanitation and is happy to see the changes in the school as a result of the sponsorship programs; better classroom management, an ECCD center and improvements in teachers from the trainings. Children also receive regular health care, stationery and study in a child friendly environment. 

Some of Rebati’s neighbors look down on her work at the school, but it has no impact on her. She proudly states, “I feel very happy when children call me aunty and I see them growing up with good education.” She says she wants to work in the school as long as her health allows her to.

Blog_05.0.12_Rebati ringing school bellWhen asked about her hopes for the future, she shares, “I want my boys to complete their schooling, study medicine, and become doctors or medical assistants. I always dreamt of becoming a nurse and serving sick people.” She is very grateful to Save the Children for our sponsorship program and for giving hope to many mothers like her.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.